Preliminary studies in the UK, all using screening instruments of unknown cultural validity, indicate that there may be an increased prevalence of dementia in African–Caribbean people, possibly related to vascular risk factors and potentially amenable to preventative measures.
To determine the prevalence of dementia in older people of African–Caribbean country of birth compared with their White UK-born counterparts.
A total of 218 people of African–Caribbean country of birth and 218 White UK-born people aged ≥60 years were recruited from five general practices in North London. Those who screened positive for cognitive impairment using a culturally valid instrument were offered a standardised diagnostic interview. Two independent assessors diagnosed dementia according to standard operationalised criteria.
African–Caribbean participants were 2 years younger, and those with dementia nearly 8 years younger than their White counterparts. The prevalence of dementia was significantly higher in the African–Caribbean (9.6%) than the White group (6.9%) after adjustment for the confounders age and socioeconomic status (odds ratio (OR) = 3.1, 95%CI 1.3–7.3, P = 0.012).
There is an increased prevalence of dementia in older people of African–Caribbean country of birth in the UK and at younger ages than in the indigenous White population. These findings have implications for service provision and preventive interventions. Further research is needed to explore the role of vascular risk factors and social adversity in the excess of dementia in this population.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists